Devon Biondi | VP, Strategy Services
January 14, 2014

Gadget Glamour and Interactive Couture: Today’s Wearable Technology

 

The 2013 holiday season saw more wearable technology items, or wearables, on wish lists than in previous years. The term “wearable tech” grew into the biggest buzzword in consumer electronics last year, according to a Wedbush Securities report on Barrons.com.

The excitement around Nike’s Fuelband and Google Glass, as well as the use of wearable tech by big-name designers such as Rebecca Minkoff (Stellé Audio Clutch), have all helped to propel a growing awareness of wearable technology as more than just tech novelty.

Today (and increasingly in the near future), you can adorn yourself with wearable technology pieces from head to toe.  Starting with bicycle helmets that use light flashes to direct you right or left, headbands that read your brainwaves, down to socks containing built-in tracking devices and shoes that send out alerts for when you need to replace them.

The functions and purposes of different wearables are as broad and wide as personal expression and tastes, but we’re listing three of the most popular types of wearable technology on the market today.

Ultimate Self-Expression

These garments and accessories track your personal data so that you can incorporate new learnings into your daily life. Such items monitor your health data and fitness levels to an extensive degree and include the Jawbone Up wristband that tracks sleep, eating and activity patterns, the upcoming First Warning Systems BSE bra, which, through temperature gauging and validated by research, detects breast cancer tumors at a higher accuracy than routine mammograms, and Heapsylon’s soon-to-launch affordable, washable T-shirts and sports bras with heart-rate monitoring capabilities.

Gadget Glamour

These wearables double as lifestyle-enhancing gadgets themselves or enhance the use of the tech gadgets you already have. Wearables that provide gadget glamour include the eBay CFDA designer USB phone-charging bracelets, the Hand Tree pollution fighting air purifier wristband and Zegna Sport solar-powered jackets that are sleeker than ever in design and can charge your gadgets with little disruption.

Fashion-Forward

A great sign of the evolution of wearable technology is a growing emphasis on fusing high fashion with high technology to create fashion pieces with unquestionable pizzazz. Many of today’s fashion-centered wearables use technology to accentuate and beautify true fashion pieces.

Moon Berlin combines elegantly shaped sheer fabrics with soft white LEDs to create a head-turning glow that intensifies with movement. Rainbow Winters has a line of water and sun reactive dresses that change colors, rain and shine. And last but not least are two examples of high fashion pieces meant to dazzle in strong relation to others. Ying Gao’s interactive dress is made of photoluminscent thread that has been imbedded with eye-tracking technology and tiny motors that move in brilliant patterns when glanced at. The futuristic-looking Studio Roosegaarde Intimacy 2.0 dresses in black and white are made of smart e-foils that sense changes in the wearer’s heartbeat and accordingly, turn translucent. These dresses are popular enough that Intimacy 3.0 dresses designed by haute couture designers are currently in development.

APIs Enabling Wider Capabilities for Wearable Technology

How do APIs play a role in wearable technology? APIs translate the data that many wearables collect into helpful, valuable information that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. The uses include being able to create extensive visualizations of physical activity data, and incorporating collected personal data with data from related apps to paint the fullest picture of someone’s personal living patterns.

APIs securely control and distribute relevant data from devices and other related apps to integrated platforms, enhancing both the self-expression that wearables promote and user experience.

Challenges Wearables Face

To make wearable technology much more relevant and accessible to the wider public in terms of practicality, designers of wearables strive to improve battery life, make gadget-oriented and electrically enhanced pieces more form fitting and comfortable, and design wearables with more emphasis on stylistic aesthetics.

We can’t know how long it will take for wearable technology designers to overcome these challenges, but in the mean time, we can admire the ingenuity and innovation that continues to thrive when technology and fashion meet.